Study: Gila monster spit reduces food and possibly booze cravings

posted at 6:01 pm on May 19, 2012 by Howard Portnoy

What are you willing to do to shed a few pounds or cut down on your alcohol intake? If your answer to either question is “anything,” then I’m here to tell you there’s a pill for that. It contains Gila monster saliva, but that’s a small sacrifice for those who are serious about fighting the battle of the bulge or climbing up on the wagon.

Sounding like something straight out of Fear Factor, the active ingredient in the drug, exendin-4, is not just lizard drool but venomous lizard drool. Yet, as the Daily Mail reports, researchers at the University of Gothenburg have discovered that the drug controls the brain regions that cause us to crave food and, to a lesser extent, booze.

The discovery of the benefits of extendin-4, which is already marketed as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, was a “happy accident.” During tests of the drug on lab rats, researchers noticed that the rodents didn’t have much of an appetite at the end of a day’s work.

Karolina Skibicka, lead author of the study (which is scheduled to appear in the Journal of Neuroscience), is quoted as saying, “This is both an unknown and quite unexpected effect.” She adds:

Our decision to eat is linked to the same mechanisms in the brain which control addictive behaviours.

We have shown that exendin-4 affects the reward and motivation regions of the brain.

Co-researcher Suzanne Dickson told the Mail, “The implications of the findings are significant. Most dieting fails because we are obsessed with the desire to eat, especially tempting foods like sweets. As exendin-4 suppresses the cravings for food, it can help obese people to take control of their weight.”

The team noted that further research on the impact of the compound on alcohol cravings would be needed before they could offer similarly optimistic pronouncements. In the meantime, those looking to kick the habit can attempt to score a supply of WA|HH Quantum Sensations spray, which simulates the effects of drinking (albeit with none of the pleasure).

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I want.

cheetah2 on May 19, 2012 at 6:04 PM

oooh my very first first comment at hot air!!!

cheetah2 on May 19, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Howard, as someone with a zoology degree, let me commend you for calling the gila monster a “venomous” lizard. Too many people say “poisonous snake” or “poisonous lizard” and that’s wrong. Poisonous would mean the gila monster made you sick if you ate it, not if it bit you.

radjah shelduck on May 19, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Nothing I enjoy more on a Saturday evening than sitting under a shade tree with a tall glass of iced lizard spit. MMMMmmmmm

crosspatch on May 19, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Also found to diminish your appetite in the short term: having a moose fart in your face.

radjah shelduck on May 19, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Common side effect: nausea and diarrhea, pancreas irritation. My doc won’t let me take this for my diabetes.

It does seem to work pretty well for some people but I’m not one of them (sigh).

Hosanna on May 19, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Also found to diminish your appetite in the short term: having a moose fart in your face.
radjah shelduck on May 19, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Hard to package that for commercial use though.

Marcola on May 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Now will every household with fat people want this little darlings to ‘milk’ their spit? Will the epa say these little darlings need 2000000 million acres under their control so that NO one get one of these?

I think we need to look at the ‘spit’ of the Komodo Dragon, they have a dandy way of dealing with those the bite? And those they bite don’t want booze or food!
L

letget on May 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Our decision to eat is linked to the same mechanisms in the brain which control addictive behaviours.

Speaking as someone who went from 310 to 170 of my own volition, I can assure anyone that the actual losing of weight did not come from any “mechanism in the brain” controlling a “decision to eat,” unless one greatly strains the difference between metaphor and reality (as, let’s face it, most pop-sci articles do).

HitNRun on May 19, 2012 at 6:14 PM

So, poisoning people makes them eat and drink less? Whoda thunk it?

Fallon on May 19, 2012 at 6:18 PM

I like food.

I like booze.

The gila monster just made my s-hit list.

hillbillyjim on May 19, 2012 at 6:19 PM

If they get the spit from a giant gila monster, you know like the size of the one that terrorized the teen-aged hot-rodders in Texas in the cheesy 1959 flick, The Giant Gila Monster, you think it might have a giant affect on dousing cravings?

stukinIL4now on May 19, 2012 at 6:19 PM

oooh my very first first comment at hot air!!!

cheetah2 on May 19, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Welcome to the nut-house.

hillbillyjim on May 19, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Um, no. I think I’ll pass.

I’ll just stick to losing weight the traditional way: counting freaking calories, portion control and exercising to shed the last pound or so of the 24 I’ve lost already.

PatriotGal2257 on May 19, 2012 at 6:24 PM

Great.

Philly on May 19, 2012 at 6:32 PM

Future liberal “climate change” justified regulation: gila spit in all foodstufs.

Plus, beef and sugar outlawed. Milk & chicken & salt severely rationed. The black box (now to be mandated in post 2014 cars thanks to the Republicans) will keep track of where you drive, and you can only drive to places deemed essential for your life.

Drones and robospy-tricycles are climate change friendly, though, and will be everywhere.

anotherJoe on May 19, 2012 at 6:32 PM

…so when Moochelle Obowme drools…they are collecting it now?

KOOLAID2 on May 19, 2012 at 6:34 PM

Just looking at the photo would be enough to make me lose my appetite, followed by retching if I knew its secretions were in something I had to drink.

And besides, the hard part is not losing weight. It’s keeping it off.

PatriotGal2257 on May 19, 2012 at 6:36 PM

And besides, the hard part is not losing weight. It’s keeping it off.

PatriotGal2257 on May 19, 2012 at 6:36 PM

“You’ll work harder with a gun at your back, for a bowl of rice o’lay. What you need is a holdiay in Cambodia…” -1979 Song

Don’t think for a moment that the libs aren’t going to gain full control in a few years. As the demographics change, and the “new morality” political philosophy gains adherents, the Obama backlash may be only a blip.
A fat tax is just the start. Required incarcerated “fat camp” for the… fat. All because of climate change, nationalized health care, you name it. The libs are going to be like kids in a candy store, salivating in coming up with all the regulations and punishments to support the new Libtopia.

anotherJoe on May 19, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Dickson sounds like more of the marketing person than a co-researcher.

jake49 on May 19, 2012 at 7:14 PM

Hard to package that for commercial use though.

Marcola on May 19, 2012 at 6:13 PM

Yeah, but you can make your own.

Oldnuke on May 19, 2012 at 7:21 PM

I have noticed that since I’ve been on a low carb diet my cravings for food and alcohol have almost disappeared. That’s the point of low carb: you keep your blood sugar up so you are not obsessed by hunger. I’ve stayed on the diet for years because of that. I still eat and drink but I never have that starving feeling.

So I’m not surprised this monster drool cuts down craving for alcohol if it works to cut down cravings for diabetics.

However, I’ll stick to low carb instead of monster drool, thank you very much.

PattyJ on May 19, 2012 at 7:42 PM

Mountain Spew!

FlatFoot on May 19, 2012 at 7:48 PM

This is old news. My wife uses Byetta for her diabetes and it is derived from Gila Monster saliva.

robblefarian on May 19, 2012 at 7:49 PM

Yuck.

sage0925 on May 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

It has been discovered that undiluted rat urine liberally peppered with pellet-shaped brown turds leads to dramatic weight loss. People drinking this concoction (AKA ‘Yellow & Tan Cocktail’) have been known to forgo food (and any liquid-other than water) for periods of up to a month leading to 20 pound weight loss,

MaiDee on May 19, 2012 at 7:54 PM

“The libs are going to be like kids in a candy store, salivating in coming up with all the regulations and punishments to support the new Libtopia.”

The latest demon: pointless internet searching and surfing. “Just a single search for Chuck Norris causes as much CO2 as a car travelling 7.5 cm.” How far will the madness go?

http://notrickszone.com/2012/05/19/environmentalists-take-aim-at-senseless-surfing-in-the-internet-by-bored-people/

anotherJoe on May 19, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Study: Gila monster spit reduces food and possibly booze cravings

Soooooo….victims of Gila monsters consume less food and booze:

Does the same hold true for victims of fatal traffic accidents???

/DUH>

Hope none of MY money was used for this “study”…

landlines on May 19, 2012 at 8:19 PM

Sign me up: this is one stone, two birds…

affenhauer on May 19, 2012 at 8:51 PM

“You’ll work harder with a gun at your back, for a bowl of rice o’lay. What you need is a holdiay in Cambodia…” -1979 Song
Don’t think for a moment that the libs aren’t going to gain full control in a few years. As the demographics change, and the “new morality” political philosophy gains adherents, the Obama backlash may be only a blip.
A fat tax is just the start. Required incarcerated “fat camp” for the… fat. All because of climate change, nationalized health care, you name it. The libs are going to be like kids in a candy store, salivating in coming up with all the regulations and punishments to support the new Libtopia.
anotherJoe on May 19, 2012 at 6:55 PM

That would be the Dead Kennedys, one of my favorite bands for a number of reasons…

affenhauer on May 19, 2012 at 9:01 PM

Can gila monster spit make me less likely to choke the crap out of the next liberal I hear claiming obama is gonna fill their gas tank and pay their rent out of his ‘stash’ of money?

Wolfmoon on May 19, 2012 at 9:18 PM

Been there! Done that! Took Byetta shots (gila monster spit based)supposedly for Type 2 diabetes. It did not nothing substantial to improve either my blood sugar or my weight/eating habits.

Gave it up. Take Glimepiride for the blood sugar (works absolute wonders on the A-1c – 7.4 down to 5.7 in two months) and am trying Will Power-Extra Strength for the weight.

I also recently saw that the ambulance chasers are hovering over the soon-to-be corpse of Byetta. Not sure that it has anything to do with the gm spit, but you might want to use a little caution.

gepaza on May 19, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Three years ago I lost weight down to 145, without trying, from 175. I had been trying for years to get it down to 165 without success. I thought I might have a serious malady as did my doctor. The only change in my behavior was that I started eating habaneros regularly because I enjoy eating them and because they clear my sinuses. After postulating that the capsaicin might cause this, I found that this affect has been observed by others and is published. I have a good weight control mechanism doing something I would do for enjoyment.

burt on May 19, 2012 at 10:32 PM

Ah shades of Plotkin from Harvard. Excellent.

jake49 on May 19, 2012 at 11:21 PM

Was Micheal Moore in the test group?
Ah yes, I see by his current picture that he was obviously in the “placebo” group.
Pity.

Amendment X on May 19, 2012 at 11:26 PM

I knew it.

The day that Gila Monster spit in my mouth, I totally lost my appetite.

Mr Galt on May 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM

That would explain why I have never seen a fat, drunk Gila Monster lately or, ever for that matter.

c3ichief on May 20, 2012 at 2:29 AM

Also found to diminish your appetite in the short term: having a moose fart in your face.
radjah shelduck on May 19, 2012 at 6:09 PM

This guy sure didn’t feel like eating for a while:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUHylIWl2YQ

itsnotaboutme on May 20, 2012 at 6:12 AM

All ya gots to do to lose weight is French-kiss a venomous lizard?

(Well, how else you gonna get some spit?)

BigAlSouth on May 20, 2012 at 6:51 AM

We have shown that exendin-4 affects the reward and motivation regions of the brain.

You’ll lose weight…and your job.

flipflop on May 20, 2012 at 7:05 AM

There’s already a medication that uses some of the chemical compounds from Gila Monster spit/venom, out on the market, and has been for the past several years.

It’s the diabetes drug Januvia.

Yiwen on May 20, 2012 at 7:52 AM

Hey, if I’d known this sooner, maybe I would have nabbed that gila monster that was taking a stroll out by my mail box a few weeks ago.

Then again, maybe not. Those things have a vicious bite; they grab your leg (or hand, or arm, or whatever else they can get hold of), clamp down, and hang on.

AZCoyote on May 20, 2012 at 9:10 AM

The Gila was always my favorite lizard as a kid.

Akzed on May 20, 2012 at 1:17 PM

The question is, is there enough Gila spit to go around?

Akzed on May 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM